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  1. #1
    us
    Jul 2010
    Teknetics Omega 8000
    67

    missing army payroll, 1870's

    The following story is very intriguing, and i was wondering if anyone has any more information on it. or if it is even true.

    Sometime in the late 1870s, two army officers en route to deliver a payroll of $60,000 in gold coins made camp at a spring near the headwaters of the San Rafael River. Aware that they had been trailed by Indians that entire day, they anticipated an attack at dawn the following day. Deciding to make a run for their lives, they buried the heavy bags of money near the spring, mounted their horses, and rode out. They were immediately attacked by the waiting Indians, but the soldiers managed to fight them off and made their escape.

    Deciding to have the money for himself, one of the officers killed the other and rode back to their headquarters where he reported that his companion had been killed by Indians and that they had stolen the payroll. The story was not believed and the officer was courtmartialed and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

    After serving his term, the ex-soldier returned to the area of the spring and made a long, but fruitless, search for the buried gold. The spring had dried up over the years and other landmarks had changed or disappeared.




  2. #2

    Feb 2008
    2,456
    221 times

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    WTH:

    What fort in Utah were the officers attempting to reach?

  3. #3
    us
    Having the time of my life!

    Sep 2008
    Cincinnati
    557
    20 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    This seems plausible, do you have any more information or a source that would help determine the proximity of the area he searched?

    Yea, though I walk through the Valley of Death I will fear no evil for thou art with me.

  4. #4
    us
    Jan 2006
    Anchorage AK
    Exterra 70, Etrac, AT Pro
    388

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    $60,000 would have been a ridiculously large payroll, gold at $16 dollars an ounce that would be 312.5 troy pounds of gold. That would probably be enough for a company sized fort for a decade. Sums that large would have way more than two people transporting it. So story just doesn't add up in my opinion

  5. #5
    us
    Jul 2010
    Teknetics Omega 8000
    67

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    it does sound a little far fetched, but details do change over time. There might have been less money then the story says. if a payroll didnt come through, where would the record of that be kept? Would someone have made some note of it, especially since it would have been such a significant payroll?

  6. #6
    us
    Apr 2007
    CA-AZ-NV-NM
    Garrett GTI 2500
    540
    11 times

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    Quote Originally Posted by westerntreasurehunter
    The following story is very intriguing, and i was wondering if anyone has any more information on it. or if it is even true.

    Sometime in the late 1870s, two army officers en route to deliver a payroll of $60,000 in gold coins made camp at a spring near the headwaters of the San Rafael River.

    I've done quite a bit of research about US Army payrolls (1860-1920) and their procedures. Many of the Army payroll robbery "treasure" stories I've read do not conform to US Army Paymaster procedures. (Also, many of the payroll amounts appear to be out-of-proportion to actual Army payroll figures, not to mention the excessive payroll weight per man for some of these stories.)

    Rather than believe me, you can google US Army Paymaster for yourself- some of the payroll procedure manuals (late 1800s to early 1900s) are available for download so you can read them for yourself.

    US Army procedures called for a Paymaster to accompany the money. There are other requirements for additional troops depending upon the amount being delivered.

    Below is an example of a typical (1800s) Wells Fargo payroll/money strongbox. It is not nearly as large as the photo makes it appear. I'm pretty sure it would not hold $60K in gold/silver... maybe paper dollars!

    I'm not saying your story isn't true, I'm just saying it doesn't seem to conform to established US Army procedures for 1860-1920.


    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  7. #7
    us
    Apr 2007
    CA-AZ-NV-NM
    Garrett GTI 2500
    540
    11 times

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    Quote Originally Posted by westerntreasurehunter
    ...if a payroll didnt come through, where would the record of that be kept?
    Now you are on the right track! According to Army regulations, if a payroll robbery did occur, troops were sent out to investigate the situation. Aside from a civilian newspaper article (or two) about the robbery, I have not been able to obtain a copy of a US Army payroll robbery investigation report (for the time period of 1860-1910).

    I have copies of many US Army written reports (1860s-1920s). They loved to write reports/logs... about almost anything and everything. Can't locate one single payroll robbery investigation report. I wish you luck in your search!

  8. #8
    us
    Jul 2010
    Teknetics Omega 8000
    67

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    thanks Bob! Alright i have a few questions for you: first, the soldiers in this story were not following the correct procedures for transfering a payroll. Is this kind of thing a rarity? what i mean is, were the regulations followed correctly most of the time? And also, where did aquire those army reports?
    Thanks, wth

  9. #9
    us
    Apr 2007
    CA-AZ-NV-NM
    Garrett GTI 2500
    540
    11 times

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    Quote Originally Posted by westerntreasurehunter
    thanks Bob! Alright i have a few questions for you: first, the soldiers in this story were not following the correct procedures for transfering a payroll. Is this kind of thing a rarity? what i mean is, were the regulations followed correctly most of the time? And also, where did aquire those army reports? Thanks, wth
    Well, I don't think you could make an accurate determination about whether "some troops" performed correctly "in the field" based upon an undocumented/unverified "story" or legend. A "rare" deviation from procedures could only be determined after examining verified facts.

    I'm not being totally dismissive of your particular story, though. Why? Because the US Army has even stricter (and more thorough) regulations and procedures now-a-days. If you follow the news today, many troops in Iraq/Afghanistan have been caught stealing millions of dollars from the US Army. So, if it is happening now, I'm sure some "monkey business" occurred during the 1800s as well.

    As far as getting your hands on US Army reports (1800s), they are in a number of places: old Army forts, historical societies, state repositories, etc.

    Hope this helps!

  10. #10

    Feb 2008
    2,456
    221 times

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    I still don't know what fort they came from and the one they were going to.
    Do some research on this will you.

  11. #11
    us
    Jul 2009
    Waltham, MA
    White's Vision
    85

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    Quote Originally Posted by Franklin
    I figure about 188 pounds I don't see how you could come up with 3,540.8 pounds?
    You're right! I don't even know how I did that! LOL thanks!!
    "Never argue with an idiot, they will drag you down to their level, and beat you with experience!"

  12. #12
    us
    Jul 2010
    Teknetics Omega 8000
    67

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    Alright. I've been researching possible forts they could have been traveling to, or traveling from. Most of the forts in Utah seem to have been abandoned by the late 1860's. There large majority of forts in Utah are mormon settlements, or temporary military camps. I could find only a few more permanent U.S. Army forts for the late 1870's. I'm not an expert on Army forts or procedures, did the army ever occupy Mormon Forts? If so then is it possible the fort they were coming from could have been listed as a mormon fort, instead of an Army fort?

  13. #13
    us
    Nov 2008
    Utah
    TITAN 3000 XD ,DFX, Minelab X-Terra 705 L Rods
    232
    8 times

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    Forts in Utah was bulit first by the mountain men and fur traders during 1800 then when the mormoncame into utah they built there fort such as ft harmony and fort santa clara and ft pearce but it was only 30' square and other over 550' square and in the 1850 & 60s almost every settlement had a fort or stockade. and the only Army payroll that was stolen that i know of was that from the camp of general Albett S Johnston the camp was in Cedar Vally the camp had 2500 troops of which it payroll was stolen.

  14. #14
    us
    Jul 2010
    Teknetics Omega 8000
    67

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    Thats good information, where did you read that? I was researching Albert Sydney Johnston but i couldnt find the part about the stolen payroll.

  15. #15
    us
    Nov 2008
    Utah
    TITAN 3000 XD ,DFX, Minelab X-Terra 705 L Rods
    232
    8 times

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    Quote Originally Posted by westerntreasurehunter
    Thats good information, where did you read that? I was researching Albert Sydney Johnston but i couldnt find the part about the stolen payroll.
    sorry its taken so long to get back I belive that its in a book called some dreams die? I have it but will have to dig it out hope that help you out
    walt

 

 
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